Unlike many events, the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta is one which revels in its unusual qualities. Like, for example, the fact that it centers around giant nylon bags of hot air rising into the air at six o’clock in the morning. Or the fact that it has the racial diversity of a Ku Klux Klan convention. These facts alone should deter anybody aside from the criminally insane from ever wanting to attend any of the Fiesta’s events, but no. No, people still attend, in droves, the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta. In droves, people. And, as my family is one of those groups of the mentally deranged that has proven itself so very incapable of resisting the sweet temptations of the hot air bags, I have decided to give you, my readers, a chance to peer into the world of the breakfast-burrito and cinnamon roll seeking walking dead.
Notice: Usage of the term “Damned Rich White Person” will occur frequently within this article, with ABSOLUTELY NO RELEVANCE WHATSOEVER TO THE BALLOON FIESTA. I just felt like, hey, it’s cool, I’m a white person.
The only people who still attend the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta are what me and a friend, who I’ll call Gilly here, like to call “damn rich white people.” These are unique people, the ones who you find littering on any municipal sidewalk. I know this, because by the end of the Fiesta day I went on there were at least twelve tons of napkins and saliva-encrusted green chile scattered randomly across the grassy launch field, usually within three feet of a trash can. Then again, it is quite difficult for many of these people to waddle to trash cans, as they can weigh upwards of two tons, as I found time and time again:
My mother spotted a woman with her buttcrack exposed and crack hair. I took a picture. I regretted later not having used the “zoom” function to help people really understand what horrors this woman’s buttcrack held.
Damn Rich White People people carry all their belongings in bright silvery Subaru Bajas with plastics so ugly that they can literally be seen from space. The other preferred method of transport is the Honda Ridgeline, which is just as ugly but also consumes all the fuel produced in the nation of Iran for the past seventeen years. As such, it has become the pet vehicle of one of the more common types of Damned Rich White People, the “pretend redneck”.
Anyway, back to the Fiesta. The hot air bags this year were very different from the hot air bags that were on display last year. We can tell this, because the local news station spent about 75% of the news broadcast showcasing the new “balloons”. For example:
At the Balloon Fiesta, things are different from the rest of Albuquerque. Here, for example, you have to fight your way to the front of lines rather than wait. Also, they have cinnamon roll cones, possibly the greatest invention in the history of Mankind, as well as hatpins (they call them “commemorative balloon pins”) which nobody will ever wear on a hat.
My mother and I attended the Special Shape Rodeo. We got there by bus (because only Damn Rich White People are stupid enough to pay $10 for the privilege of riding in a school bus). Our reasoning is that the special shape balloons are the only ones that look interesting, hence we are willing to spend money to get up close and possibly have a giant dragon’s hot air bag mouth swoop to the ground and appear to eat us or something. Our other reasoning was that I might find a new wolf shirt, as my collection is becoming ratty and torn from frequent usage in the wilds of the University of New Mexico campus. Neither of these things happened. I am still looking for replacement wolf shirts.
(I apologize, my mother has informed me that the preceding paragraph is incorrect. She actually spent $30 on bus tickets. So: Only Damn Rich White People are stupid enough to pay thirty dollars for the privilege of riding in a school bus. Thank you.)
The Fiesta has a strange rhythm and feel to it. Every year, it is started by the Dawn Patrol, consisting of five balloons from around the world whose pilots are willing to get up at God alone knows what hour to check the weather. These brave souls are then overshadowed by the Wells Fargo Bank’s balloons, each of which have ultra-patriotic flags attached to them, reminding viewers that one is not truly American unless they have a Wells Fargo checking account. As I watched this spectacular display, the first thing that came to my mind is that it had better damn well get more spectacular, because I have a Wells Fargo Checking account and they’re spending MY DAMN MONEY to put these hot air bags into the sky.
But never mind. As the real show, the giant dragon balloons and floating beavers and giant computer screens and beer mugs flew into the air, I became enveloped in the scene. Like a giant advancing row of cowboys on horseback, these balloons began to grow, filling the grassy knoll with their size and omnipresence. As they grew, these titans of the sky began to rise, filling their appendages and making themselves known to the peons below. Their propane-enduced girth increased, as the propane burners growled and bellowed below, like a herd of leashed monster dogs. And finally, the balloons rose into the sky, moving with the wind like angels on clouds.
All right, now that I’m done being nice, it’s time to start making fun of people again. As the balloons flew higher, it was time to begin buying paraphernalia, because my mother was paying for it. We bought three pins. That was it. I considered much more, but we finally boarded the bus after twenty minutes in line in the freezing cold morning to go home.
I had seen much in my time at the “AIBF.” I had seen large balloons, which struck terror into the hearts of weaker men. I had seen women whose bodies appeared much larger and more frightening than the balloons had been. And I had seen lots and lots of Damn Rich White People.
It was an… ahem… enchanting morning.
Tell me what you think! Luigirepublic@aol.com